On Friday, Sen. Jay Paul Gumm and Rep. Joe Dorman succeeded in their effort to close a loophole that allows sex offenders to use ice cream trucks to come into close contact with children.
The Oklahoma Legislature approved a compromise version of Senate Bill 1020 which would strengthen state laws on domestic violence and increase penalties for child pornography.
The amended SB 1020 includes Gumm’s and Dorman’s language to criminalize the operation of an ice cream truck by a sex offender, with a punishment of up to two and a half years in prison and/or a fine. Gumm said the measure was drafted in response to a number of high profile cases throughout the nation.
Further, the measure requires ice cream vending companies to to search the sex offender database to determine if any employees are convicted offenders. The company shall keep proof of the search, and upon discovering any employee is violating the bill, the company would be required to contact the distict attorney with that information.
“We have to take every potential precaution in our effort to protect children from predators,” said Gumm, D-Durant. “We can’t simply wait until a tragedy occurs in our own back yard before we address the issue. I’m relieved that we were able to reach an agreement and close this loophole – passage of this law allows Oklahoma parents and children to rest easier.”
Gumm, a Democrat from Durant, expressed gratitude to Representative Dorman, the original House author of the language, and Sen. Jonathan Nichols, R-Norman, and Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, who agreed to add the proposal to SB 1020.
“While I’m relieved by today’s vote, this proposal should not have been such a struggle to pass,” Gumm said. “The bill was stalled at numerous junctures in the House of Representatives. Whether the trouble was politics or that some legislators don’t mind having sex offenders driving ice cream trucks, neither answer is sufficient.”
Dorman expressed gratitude to his fellow legislators for passing the measure.
“As lawmakers, we have a responsibility to make our state a safe place for the most vulnerable members of our society,” said Dorman, D-Rush Springs. “I’m pleased that members of the Legislature recognized the need to be proactive on this issue and eliminate a dangerous risk.”
Chris T. Long, Legislative Chairperson with the International Association of Ice Cream Vendors, said the measure should be considered a national model for the issue.
“In the end, I believe your final draft of Senate Bill 1147 should be presented as a model bill on this issue in the future,” he said. “With your permission, I will be archiving this bill so that it can be presented to other states, cities, or municipalities in the future.”